A controversy exists over whether the documents used by CBS 60 Minutes to trash George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard are forgeries. According to CBS, the documents are real and authentic. Other news organizations, including the Washington Post and ABC news, have had the documents examined by experts, who have pronounced them likely forgeries.
Here are the documents in question, in my opinion it is pretty clear that they are forgeries.
Initially, if this were a court of law, the documents would be flatly inadmissible. Under the rules of evidence, before anyone is allowed to use a document he has to authenticate it, which if a fancy way of saying that he has to have some evidence that the document is what is appears to be. This is not a particularly difficult task, a letter can be authenticated by the person who wrote it, or the person who received it, or by the records clerk who pulled it from the file where you would expect it to be kept.
Well they can't be authenticated by Lt. Col. Killian, the supposed author of the documents, because he is--conveniently--deceased. And the file clerk for the Texas Air National Guard can't authenticate them either, because these documents aren't in their records. According to sworn affidavits the records of the Texas Air National Guard have all been produced and these questioned documents are not among them. So, it seems to me that if you are going to believe that the documents are authentic, you have to have some explanation why they aren't where they are supposed to be. Given that Sandy Berger works for the Democrats, this might be difficult.
Well, lets just assume that there was an evil Republican conspiracy to clense the National Guard files. That still doesn't answer where the documents came from. According to the folks at CBS, the records just "showed up". Here is how their story puts it:
But 60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file. Among them, a never-before-seen memorandum from May 1972, where Killian writes that Lt. Bush called him to talk about "how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November."(emphasis mine) In other words, CBS won't tell us where they got the documents, although they will say that who ever gave them the documents got them from the author's "personal file." (For what it is worth, "The Prowler" at the Spectator quotes an unnamed CBS source as saying the documents came to CBS from the DNC).
But you would think that if the documents had been maintained in Col. Killian's personal files all these years, his wife and son would have known about it. But Col. Killian's widow and son both say that he didn't keep such files, would not have written such documents and, in addition, liked George Bush quite a bit.
Dan Rather says that where the documents come from isn't important, but if they didn't come from the official records or files maintained by the author, then it is a mystery to me where they could have come from. I think, especially given the conflicting expert testimony, CBS had better come clean on the source of the documents if they want to be believed.
But lets turn to the subject of the documents themselves. As Powerline notes, the fact that the documents are in Times New Roman font, proportionally spaced, and contain subscripts is evidence that the documents were done on a computer. It is possible that a typewriter contained these features in 1972, but it would be very unusual and there is no evidence that the Texas Air National Guard owned such an exotic machine.
But even if such a typewriter existed, it couldn't have typed the memos. As Powerline also notes the documents evidence a technique called "kerning" which cannot be produced on a typewriter:
We discussed this extensively yesterday, but briefly, "kerning" is the ability of letters in word-processed documents to intrude on one another's space. If you type the word "my" in Word or any other word processing program, the tail of the "y" will curl slightly under the "m." This cannot be done on any typewriter, because a typewriter cannot know what the adjacent letter is. A letter on a typewriter must have its own space.
Powerline has an enlargement of one of the documents, so you can see what he means. More on kerning here. And the Daily Recycler has typed out one of the memos using Word 2002. Take a look, the coincidence in the spacing is just a little bit too much.
There are other problems with the documents, including:
They reference an Air Force Manual which never existed, and a lot of the terminology and formatting looks wrong;
The date and rank are wrong, and the documents are missing SSCI codes;
And look at the differences in the signature on one of the questioned documents with Col. Killian's real signature.
I don't know about you, but I am convinced.